Barnes & Noble helps bring diversity to the world of literary classics

The TBWA\Chiat\Day NY created project doesn't necessarily re-imagine literary covers, but does give them new life.

Barnes & Noble Fifth Avenue and Penguin Random House have collaborated with seven artists to bring some diversity to a series of literary classics. 

Launched on February 5 at the onset of black history month the initiative, coined Diverse Editions, reimagines the covers of several classic literary works to include characters of color. 

Readers are treated to a black Frankenstein, a Native American Alice (from Alice In Wonderland), and other characters as well. 

The work was launched after it was discovered that many of these classic stories that generations have grown up on never specified the race of the main protagonist. 

According to Chris Beresford-Hill, chief creative officer at TBWA/Chiat/Day, the origin of the idea came from an internet moment. 
"When they cast a black actress to play Hermoine in Harry Potter in London, Twitter went a little crazy, and a number of people were sure that she was white," he said. "It was buzzing through my feed, and JK Rowling jumped in, and said that her text never identified race for the character."
"This lead to wondering what other books, what great and iconic books, also do not explicitly reveal the race or ethnicity of the protagonist," he added. 

The seven artists commissioned for the project hail from diverse backgrounds and geographies, ensuring that ethnic minorities across the U.S. would be represented. 

"Thanks to book covers that largely used white portrayals, many stories filled in a crucial detail, even if the text did not. So effectively millions of readers could not really see themselves in these stories," Beresford-Hill explained.

In addition to the limited edition covers which will be available at Barnes & Noble 5th avenue store throughout February (for free with the purchase of said title) consumers will be able to download their own online via a bespoke website, as well as upload their own designs for titles that don’t specify race or ethnicity as confirmed by AI.

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